Book Review: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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“Her heart of compressed ash, which had resisted the most telling of blows of daily reality without strain, fell apart with the first waves of nostalgia. The need to feel sad was becoming a vice as the years eroded her. She became human in her solitude.”

One of the, if not the, founding pillars of modern Magical Realism, One Hundred Years of Solitude tells the story of the rise and fall of the fictional city of Macondo and its founding family: the Buendias.

I used to have a habit of writing the day I bought a book on the back of the last page. It’s a habit that I’ve lost in the last couple of years and I’m sorry for it because it’s nice to look back and remember when I bought a book. When did I buy Solitude? June 2, 2007. 7 years ago. This is actually one of the books that made the move with me from the Philippines to California. That means this has been on my to-be-read pile for 7 years. I finally got around to it. I actually feel like one of the characters since it often took them years to perform any kind of action or instigate some kind of change. But I do believe that books have their time in a person’s life and I’m glad that I read this now rather than when I was younger and might not have been able to appreciate it.

One Hundred Years of Solitude is often praised as a masterpiece and I can see why. Marquez seamlessly weaves together fantasy and reality, creating believable characters in an extraordinary and unbelievable world. The story follows the Buendia lineage, from the birth of it to its demise. i won’t pretend that it’s not a difficult read. The prose is a bit heavy, the characters difficult to tell apart sometimes (especially when they all have the same name!), and thematically it’s a lot to take in. There were times when I had to stop and ask myself just what I was reading. But still, despite it all, it wasn’t difficult for me to submerge myself in the world and town that Marquez created. My one regret is that I can’t read Spanish because I have a feeling that the English translation might not be giving the full experience of the beauty in Marquez’s language. I don’t often feel this way when reading translations, but I had the nagging feeling that being able to read this in Spanish would be glorious.

I like the theme of solitude that follows each and every member of the Buendia family. It really emphasizes the tragedy of their lives and deaths. To live and die in a town and a house that started out as beautiful and prosperous and to watch it all rot and fall to pieces around you…The cycle of life and death that no one can escape from. Marquez truly has the gift of storytelling magic and I can’t wait to read his other works.

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